I fully sympathize with Hendrik Hertzberg's sentiments in this week's New Yorker. And had the jurors in Zacarais Moussaoui's trial sentenced him to death, it would have turned into the most highly visible state-sanctioned execution the world has seen in a long time (I have not done my research on that, btw), further solidifying the image in the minds of the rest of the civilized world of Americans as a short-sighted, revenge-wielding, Nancy-Grace-obsessed mob.
I'm not sure but Hertzberg seems to romanticize this jury, speaking of them as a whole when he praises their final decision, giving the impression that they all came to the non-death sentence as a group. Well I think it is worth noting that that's not how it happened at all. According to that linked article (read through the end for the bit documenting the post-trial statements made by a couple of the jurors) we were spared the disgusting spectacle of Moussaoui's execution by one lone, anonymous juror who did not see eye to eye with the rest of the jurors.
The jury's forewoman states that she voted for the death sentence "because she believed the government proved its case." This reminded me that I tend to forget that a juror who opts for a life sentence over a death sentence is presumably doing so not because he or she disagrees with the death penalty on principle, but because the prosecution did not prove its case sufficiently.
Which brings us to the fact that sometimes a criminal's life comes down to how well certain attorneys perform their job. Ahh, Lady Justice, you little vixen!